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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Meeting between firefighters’ union, chief of staff bears no fruit

José Tirado García, president of the Firefighters Union

By John McPhaul

La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales said Wednesday that she asked the president of the Firefighters Union, José Tirado García, to stop the so-called “Red Flu” protest action that has seen 85% of the island’s firefighters walk off the job.

“He [Tirado] openly said that he was not responsible for what the firefighters were doing and we asked him to make a call to his union members so that he would fulfill his duty,” García Bardales said after finishing the meeting with the union chief.

She maintained that government regulations will be applied to firefighters and teachers who are participating in the call to be absent.

“Any public employee who does not comply with their Human Resources Regulations will have the [regulations] applied,” García Bardales said. “The firefighter who is absent for more than three days and does not bring a medical excuse will not be paid. Anyone who does not present an excuse and comply with his or her regulations will not be paid. The same is going to happen with the teachers.”

In the case of teachers, the regulation establishes that two days can be missed without the need to present a medical excuse.

Tirado said meanwhile that the meeting with the chief of staff did not bear fruit. He said he will meet with “Red Flu” participants and will let them know the result of the meeting so that they can determine the steps to follow.

“But next week, we are going to bring all the firefighters here to La Fortaleza, so that the governor can speak to them directly and tell them what the prospects are for them,” Tirado said.

Firefighters had a base salary of $1,500 per four weeks. Recently they were approved for an additional increase of $125, bringing the base salary to $1,625. For 2023, another $125 raise comes in to bring the base pay up to $1,750. The firefighters are requesting that their base salary be $2,500.

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